What is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and what can you do to manage or maybe even prevent it?  Our staff RN, Anita Hester gives some suggestions about this often overlooked problem.

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Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is an autoimmune thyroid condition that can cause symptoms of overactive as well as low functioning thyroid.  An autoimmune condition means that antibodies, which normally fight off harmful invaders in the body, begin to attack healthy tissues by mistake.  It is believed that this is sometimes the result of viral, bacterial or fungal infections, as well as other factors.  Many times the symptoms of too much thyroid hormone such as anxiety, fast heart beat, weight loss, and fatigue may appear at first, then as the thyroid gland suffers damage, symptoms reflect low thyroid function.  A simple blood test called TPO can check for these antibodies.  TPO (thyroid peroxidase) is an enzyme made in the thyroid gland that is important in the production of thyroid hormone.  The TPO test measures the level of an antibody that is directed against TPO.

Higher than normal TPO may indicate increased chance of developing autoimmune conditions.

Since TPO is not commonly checked by many practitioners, patients may have thyroiditis, or other autoimmune conditions such as lupus, Sjogren’s or rheumatoid arthritis developing and not know it.  Unfortunately, many find out when symptoms become so severe that they interfere with activities of daily living.

So how does this condition get started?  There’s not a simple answer, but a lot of it may start in the GI tract.  Many patients produce too little stomach acid, take acid suppressants, use antibiotics or oral contraceptives which can impair digestion and absorption of nutrients.  Eating too much sugar and carbs, processed foods, skipping meals and stress can also lead to poor digestion.  With this impaired gut functioning comes imbalance in intestinal flora,  hormone imbalance, blood sugar problems and increased cortisol.  If not corrected these can lead to more serious issues like chronic inflammation, food allergies, toxin buildup, decreased immunity, anemia, leaky gut, adrenal problems and ultimately thyroid dysfunction.  Impaired immunity makes one more prone to chronic infections, leading to more antibiotic or steroid use and the vicious cycle continues.  Proper diet, probiotics, and adequate nutrients like iodine and selenium are helpful along with the right medications for optimal thyroid function.

If you suspect you have thyroid problems, ask your practitioner for a full thyroid panel including TPO.  Bring us the results and we can review them with you so you can better understand what is going on with your thyroid.  Check out the website thyroidpharmacist.com to get more detailed information about thyroid issues.

Comment below if you have something to say about a thyroid issue you are experiencing.